Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Cats or Cars? - by Theo

What's a good analogy for having a young baby? Cats and Cars, is what I've come up with.

Babies sleep anywhere, any cradle, any chair, often in the most uncomfortable looking positions. Any stranger's lap will also do, apparently. In this sense, babies are just like cats, even to the extent of the sudden startles or strange mewlings they make while deeply asleep - extremely cute during the daytime, rather trying at night when you're trying to get some shut eye yourself. Sometimes they want to be cuddled, sometimes they don't - there's no second guessing them. They have this totally selfish, innocent integrity; they are out for no 1, and blow the rest of you. They make a mess in the house and feedings are unpredictable - after complaining about their hunger they occasionally turn their noses up at the proffered food. Like cats, they also scratch, which I hadn't realised - those little nails can wound! Biting soon to come, I imagine.

In another sense though, babies are just like cars. They need fuel, maintenance, cleaning and there's a seemingly never ending stream of paperwork to be completed. Plus there's the regular, nerve-wracking check-ups and mechanical examinations; you're pretty sure nothing is wrong, but even so you dread the worst, get seriously concerned when the senior mechanic... sorry doctor... starts pointing things out to a junior colleague and breath a huge sigh of relief when the words "all fine" are uttered. Like at Rosie's hip scan on Monday. Plus, as with car ownership, having a baby means you suddenly become fair game for everyone's two-pennies worth on how to care for it and what route to take. The amount of advice that comes the way of parents is astounding, confusing and contradictory - there is no consensus. Most of it we reject, some of it is clearly dangerous, a lot belongs to the rubbish-dump of bad medical thinking, but all of it taken together would be enough to make a less arrogant... sorry, confident, father doubt themselves and their instincts. Like the pediatrician yesterday telling us that carrying Rosie in a sling was bad for her. "How do you think parents carried babies before prams were invented?" was my riposte, to which she had no reply.

Of course, unlike cars, you can't choose your baby. Not that we'd change anything about our lovely little mini!

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